So since football season has started I thought I would post something about the Roman gladiatorial games. They were like the football games of today with loud fans, encounters with bodily harm, and deadly consequences (well, maybe in spirit only). Romans in both the city of Rome and across the empire loved watching games. For them, the bloodier the better!
If you have seen the movie Gladiator, which I love and is one of my all-time favorites, then you know it unfortunately contains many historical errors. As awesome as that movie was, not all gladiators fought to the death. That would not make sense. Gladiators were an investment that would make their owner/master very wealthy so they would take care of his gladiators. They were fed well, given medical treatment if necessary, and trained to fight. Even though some did die in battles most lived. There were even referees that watched each fight and declared the winner. Some gladiators fought to music as well.
Gladiators were like professional athletes today and made both their owner/master and themselves wealthy. Most were slaves that could save with their earnings and buy their freedom, but some freemen became gladiators to get out of debt or make money if they were desperate.
Some gladiators became so popular they were like celebrities and women would pay to sleep with them. These top gladiators were able to sell a combination of their sweat, dirt, and olive oil to the public and make a lot of money. These scrapings were used as part of cures for multiple ailments that people would consume.
Life was not always glamorous for gladiators. There was the constant threat of severe bodily harm, poor living conditions, treatment as a slave (which they were), and death was always a possibility. But people became gladiators anyways (a decision they did not always make for themselves) for the glory and riches one could acquire or as a way to become free. Romans loved gladiator battles and the battles continued until 404 CE (Common Era) when they were finally abolished.